Good morning! If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn to Psalm 16. And if you don’t have a Bible, there should be a Bible under the row of chairs in front of you. If you can grab a Bible, we are going to be in Psalm 16.
This morning, we are continuing our look into Advent, the time of year when we look back at the first coming of Jesus, while at the same time, looking forward to the second coming of Jesus.
Advent is not just a liturgical church thing, if this is something that maybe weirds you out a little bit. Advent actually has so much to offer the follower of Jesus.
In Advent, we celebrate when Jesus came to this earth as a baby. We celebrate when Jesus died the death that we deserved to die, to save us from the enemy we needed to be saved from. We celebrate when Jesus was raised back to life, ascended into heaven, and was seated at the right hand of God the Father.
Advent is a time of celebration. But Advent is also a time of anticipation, as we await when Jesus will come again to this earth in glory. We anticipate when Jesus will come to make right what was wrong and to fix what was broken. We anticipate when Jesus will come to bring His Kingdom in all its fullness, and will reign on the earth as King.
And with how busy Christmas is, and with how busy all of us get, Advent gives us the permission to slow down and reflect on the coming of Jesus to this world.
Advent helps us see that we are part of a bigger story than just simply what we have going on at Christmas. Our story finds itself in the limbo of the now and the not yet of the Kingdom of God, where we see glimpses of the fullness that Jesus is bringing when He returns.
And we saw one example of this, last week, when we looked at the Advent theme of hope. We saw that we can have hope, now, that is greater than our circumstances, because Jesus paid the penalty for sin that we could not pay. And we await the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, not as ones without hope, but as ones with an eternal hope.
And this morning, we are looking at the Advent theme of joy. And our roadmap, this morning, for those of us who are notetakers, is going to look at three ways we can have everlasting joy, and that is that, we can have everlasting joy because our goodness, our inheritance, and our life are found in Christ.
So, if you have your Bible opened to Psalm 16, let’s beginning reading in verse 1: “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ 3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. 5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” May God bless the reading of His Word.
The reality of living in a Genesis 3 world is that everything and everyone is living under a curse. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree, from which they were not supposed to eat, it plunged all of Creation, humanity included, into a tailspin of sin and death.
So, when loved ones pass away, or when a serious health condition comes our way, or when our bank account is depleted, or when our house goes up in flames, we are reminded that everything is under the curse of sin and death.
And this has the potential to rob us of our joy. To use myself as an example, I struggle with seasonal depression. The winter months are long and hard for me to get through. Last winter, especially, with how long it was, there were several times when I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, it got so bad.
Once I got myself a treadmill, it helped with getting my body active, and I was able to do more, when before it was hard to find the energy. But, of course, this was just a band-aid solution to a deeper issue. Ultimately, what I need is not more sun in my life or more exercise or more vitamins; what I need is Jesus.
I need Jesus to reverse the curse and become my everlasting joy in this sin-riddled world. That’s what I need. That’s what all of us need. We can try band-aid solutions, but we won't ever get to the root issue unless we have the everlasting joy of Jesus. But the question is: How can we get that? Well, I’m glad you asked, because our text for this morning, gives us the answer.
1. The first way that we can have everlasting joy is that our goodness is found in Christ and not in ourselves.
Look at verse 1: “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’”
David, the writer of Psalm 16, finds comfort and contentment in God, and it’s because he relies on God for his well-being.
And this takes the pressure completely off of us, right? If I have no good apart from God, then it means that I’m not working and working to get somewhere that I won't ever get to.
Because here’s the reality: We are all under the curse of sin and death, so what we naturally do is what we think is good. And the problem is that our measuring stick of goodness pales in comparison to the goodness of God.
So, if I’m relying on my goodness, I have so much more to live up to than if my goodness is found in God, because I am now expected to live this perfect life and keep all of God’s commands, perfectly. And the reality is that I fall short at every point. We all do. It’s part of the curse. We naturally fail to do what we ought.
And the biggest lie of Satan is that you and I are good. We are not good. We are sinners in need of a Saviour. It’s why Jesus came to this earth. He came to live the perfect life that we could not live, so that our trust in His goodness would save us from our sinfulness, because our goodness doesn’t amount to much.
Do you know what Isaiah 64:6 says about our righteous deeds—our goodness? It says they are nothing but filthy rags. We say things like, “I’m a good person. I go to church. I give my money away. I’m sure I obey the Ten Commandments. I don’t smoke or chew or date girls who do. Surely, I’m good with God.”
But all we’re doing when we say things like this, is we’re parading our filthy rags. It’s good to go to church and it’s good to give our money away, but if that’s where our goodness is found, then we’ve missed the point of the gospel.
And it’s why David says what he does in verse 3: “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.”
The saints in the land are those who know their depravity and all the areas they fall short, but who seek after God for refuge. They are the excellent ones. But those who run after other gods are running and running after nothing that will save them, but that which will only enslave them to more sin and more death.
Our only hope for everlasting joy is to grab hold of Jesus. It’s why I said it frees us up when we rely on God for our well-being. I won’t find everlasting joy in relying on my goodness to get by. But do you know what I will find? Anxiety. Because I’m trying to earn God’s favour, which cannot be earned, but which has already been offered to me through Christ.
2. So, everlasting joy comes when our goodness is found in Christ and not in ourselves. The second way that we can have everlasting joy is that our inheritance is found in Christ.
Look at verse 5: “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”
Being a pastor’s kid, I have always joked about the fact that I won’t ever see an inheritance. My siblings and I would say that my parents spent that money a long time ago. Recently, though, my parents have assured us that we will have something after they die. Not like we’re looking forward to them dying or anything, but I guess they just want to make sure that we know that.
But here’s the reality of the curse: That inheritance, how big or how small, will fade away. Any inheritance, no matter how much it is, will inevitably come to an end, because of the curse.
Helena and I have been watching the CBC show, Still Standing, where comedian Johnny Harris, one of the actors from Murdoch Mysteries, visits these small Canadian towns on the ropes and performs a stand-up show for the locals, proving that Canadians can laugh in the face of adversity.
And the episode this past week was about the small town of Minto, Manitoba. But what was really interesting about Minto is that, back in 2016, the town found out that they would inherit a fortune from a former resident who had moved away 70 years ago.
This guy, who was an eccentric millionaire, gave the town $1.5 million for them to use for youth programming and equipment. Every year, they can use up to $50,000 until all the money is used up.
And I thought it was interesting how, even $1.5 million, will eventually come to an end. It’s a lot of money that we can do a lot of good with, but it will not last.
And it’s why David writes, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup.” Life is not about what I can accumulate on this earth, because it’s ultimately going to pass away. Life is about whether I have Jesus. That’s the question.
Because if we have Jesus, then we have a “beautiful inheritance,” David writes. An inheritance that will not pass away. An inheritance that is sure. An inheritance where the Lord is always before us.
But what has to happen in order for us to receive this inheritance? Death. In order for me to receive the inheritance of my parents, they first must die. So, in order for us to receive the inheritance promised to us by God, God must die.
And what do we see when we get to the New Testament? God dwells among His people in the Person of Jesus Christ. And then, He goes to the cross to pay our sin debt. And through His death, we are given this beautiful inheritance.
I mean, when we think of an inheritance, we don’t think eternally. We don’t think, forever. But in Christ, we find an eternal inheritance. And this brings us joy—everlasting joy. Because as we look ahead to the return of Jesus, we discover that God will forever be before us.
And this affects the way we view our money. If my inheritance is found in what I can accumulate and gain on this earth, then I should eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow I die. If our inheritance is for this life only, then we need to live it up.
But if my inheritance is found in Christ, then what I gain and accumulate on this earth has no value to me, ultimately. My inheritance is in heaven. It’s not tied to what I own here on earth. So, if I lose it all, it’s not the end of the world.
And do you know what this does to us? It gives us joy, because I can live with the freedom of holding loosely to what God has given me. And I don’t know about you, but this is where I fall short, often. I find it really hard to not give in to the pressure of the world to have what I think I should have.
But if “the Lord is my chosen portion and my cup,” then I can have joy, knowing that, in Christ, I have all I need.
3. And so, everlasting joy is found when my goodness and my inheritance is found in Christ. But where all of this comes to a head is in this last point, where everlasting joy is found when my life is found in Christ.
Look at verse 9: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
David is writing this prophetically of Jesus. When David says, “You will not… let your holy one see corruption,” David is speaking of Jesus, and the fact that the body of Jesus did not see corruption, because the body of Jesus was raised from the dead.
Corruption is what happens when the body is in the grave for a long time, right? If you were to dig up the grave of a person who died a while ago, you would say that their body has experienced corruption. It would not look the way it did when you put the body in the grave. That’s the result of corruption.
The apostle Peter, in his sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, preached about how Jesus was crucified and killed. He was clearly dead. But how God raised Him up, “loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
The body of Jesus, Peter is saying, saw no corruption.
The apostle Paul says a similar thing in his sermon in Acts 13, where he says, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.”
David, the guy who wrote this Psalm, died. His body saw a lot of corruption. But again, Jesus did not.
Peter and Paul, they read this passage in Psalm 16, and they look at the holy one who would not see corruption, and they’re convinced that’s Jesus.
And what this means for us is that the hope of salvation leads to the joy of the resurrection. And you can already start to see how the themes of Advent become intertwined, and how Jesus is at the center of it all.
The reason I can ultimately have joy in all its fullness is because Jesus, who came and died for my sin, did not stay dead, but was raised from the dead in triumph over the curse of sin and death.
And because Jesus was raised from the dead and did not see corruption, if our life is found in Christ, then we can have joy that the curse will be done away with when Christ returns.
And it’s why David writes, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
God is wooing us to the best and fullest life. It’s not your best life now. It’s your best life to come. And it’s found in Jesus.
If your life is not found in Christ, then all you have is whatever life here on earth you do have to find joy. But it won't last. The curse on this earth has made it so that we cannot find lasting joy.
We can try. We can look around for anything that will give us joy in this life, but it won't last. In the end, it’s destined for corruption. And if our life is not found in Christ, in the end, we will be destined for corruption.
But to echo the words of the angels to the shepherds, in Luke 2:10-11, that night when Christ was born: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
God did not leave us to wallow in the curse of sin and death. He came to this cursed world, and Galatians 3:13 says that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” And if our life is found in Christ, if we put our trust in Jesus, we will be saved from the curse.
This is good news of great joy. It’s the news that we don’t have to rely on our goodness, that we will receive a beautiful inheritance, and that our life, though we die, is secure in Christ, when we will rise again to new life when Christ returns.
In Revelation 22, we see a picture of the blessed life to come when we will forever be with Jesus in glory. But verse 3 says, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.”
One of the verses in the song, Joy to the World, goes like this: “No more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow. Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found.”
I said earlier that I find the winters to be hard and wearisome for me. During this time, I struggle to dig into the Word of God and find its application for God’s people, which is hard because that’s what God has called me to do.
The reality is that we are living under the curse, and one of the curses upon mankind that is prevalent these days is depression. There are many people who suffer with this, this time of year.
But regardless of the severity of the curse, it cannot take away our joy. I might find it hard to dig into the Word of God, but do you know where there is life? The Word of God. And that is what we draw on, when the days get short, or when the nights get long, or when the bank account gets low, or when sickness sets in, or whatever it might be.
Our joy is found in Christ. And if we have Christ, then nothing in all of Creation can take away our joy. It can try, but it will not succeed.
Christ first came to take care of the sting of the curse, but there is coming a day when He will come again to completely wipe away the curse, forever. And church, this is good news of great joy for all people.
How will you respond to this good news, this morning? Put your trust in Jesus and receive the everlasting joy of Christ Jesus. It will be the best decision you ever make. Let’s pray…
Heavenly Father, you are the God of all joy. You strengthen what is weak and give hope to those who live in fear. Make us grateful for this good news of great joy and keep us faithful in proclaiming it to all people. Purge from us any false understanding of what we think joy is. God, show us what it means to be a joyful people. This we pray, in the name of Jesus. Amen.